Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Android for literature

So I just got a new Samsung Galaxy S over the weekend and have been playing around with it like crazy, of course....... And it occurs to me soon enough that there are hardly any apps worth downloading that has anything to do with writing or heck, reading.

I know, I know - how much reading can you really do on these tiny screens? But surprisingly a lot, you might find. It has also been a while since most of my reading has been on screen - not only because the number of physical nooks I buy has dwindled (I still buy all my books for class and then more) but because there are just such a vast amount available to read.

I've also been observing that a lot of submission guidelines for magazines - especially the website oriented ones, obviously - indicate a preference for shorter pieces more suitable for the screen. So I'm actually wondering - why don't they go the full length and make an app? Do they exist and I just failed in finding it, or is it just not cost-efficient for the small number that will download it?

I guess I am just trying to think this through. People who buy Kindle are mostly all readers to start with. People who buy smartphones are not. Promote enough 'reading apps', and could we maybe even promote these mags as well? Get more people reading? Subscribing? Saving the world?

Bottom line, I would seriously love to have handy buttons to just click through and access all the lovely stories that simultaneously inspire me and make me despair. Ideomancer at www.ideomancer.com/wp has somewhat right idea. So dear readers, if you know of ways I can squeeze in more reading between waiting for transportation and awkard time slots between classes, please do let me know.

Oh, and do not get me started on the whole all tablets=iPads & all smartphones=iPhones thing. I see one more website that proudly declares "iPhone edition" for a mobile site... I'll.... I'll....

(The New Yorker does this. What...what am I supposes to SAY??)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Meeting Margaret Atwood

Say, it's been 3 weeks since I trumpeted to the blog that I was gonna meet her. So what happened?

(All pictures in this post were taken by Prof J. Robert Lennon, 
my advisor and awesome professor who also has a wicked camera - unless otherwise noted.)

The first part was a giant reading, which I attended with many others and stood in an auditorium in awe at her. She is one of the most charismatic person I have met, and I was in love by the end of the night and telling anyone I met about it.  

She read from various sections, including poetry - and boy, can she read, let alone write. There was a cat died and gone to kitty heaven where he meets God in the form of a house cat and asks for his balls back, because he has woken up one day from a very bad dream and found them gone. There was a couple who appears in all three stories she will not write, always doing things masterfully or despairingly and always ending up having sex in chapter two. And just...just... go read her works, go youtube her, go stalk at her house (ok no, but attend her readings if you ever find the slightest chance to be able to do so.) 

At the end, she sang parts of a song from her newest book, and we sang the last verse with her. It was an amazing moment. 

Then the questions opened up; you might not be surprised at the number of people who began their questions with "I'm such a big fan/admirer of yours!" (if you guessed "almost all", you'd be right) or even "I love you." 

One question was - of course, of course - about social media and writing et al. Atwood mentions the O'Reilly presentation and the Death of the Author and the Publishing Pie (which I know has been making the rounds at blogs for a while now, but let me link it just in case; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6iMBf6Ddjk) and summed things from that presentation nicely. She also said something that will be the only thing in direct quotation about her because it's what I remember clearly as something she said: 

And you can't have books without authors. "You need authors to write the books." Pointing to her temple, "Gee, Margaret, that's profound." 

Other question began with a spoiler of her book, since it was along the lines of "Do you regret killing off the group of so_and_so?" So Atwood simply said, "We'll change the question to 'Do I regret anything'?" And the answer was something like (if my memory serves me right), "Authors of course are humans and we feel bad and we stay up all night agonizing over things..... But no, really, on killing off characters, we're quite evil." 

The second part was the Q&A session held in the lounge of our English department, in which a number of awestruck undergraduates who could click reply fast enough could attend and fire questions away at her. At first we were all a little shy and silent, but by the end we had to be forced away from her. 

And to each question, however vague, she gave a long answer with specific details. At one point we cracked jokes at the expense of adverbs (and Harry Potter, which apparently has been described by Stephen King as always doing things "angrily"?). 

My question was: "So I've seen your O'Reilly presentation" - hint hint zomg I'm ur fanz - "and do you think the changing format of literature will change literature itself? I mean, the novel itself is a pretty new form, compared to poetry which has been around for much longer, and..." 

Except, of course, it was a lot more incoherent than that, with me babbling and trying to make sense. What I was trying to say was, perfectly rehearsed in my mind, that if the printing press created the novel, will internet and digital print (read: kindle et al) create a new form of literature? The rise in popularity of flash fiction might be a result of that, although I don't know enough about the history of ff beyond what wikipedia tellme, or perhaps the twitter fiction is a better example.

She cut me off around at that point, and gave a long answer which I will attempt to recreate: 

Yes, the novel hasn't been around as long, but story telling always has been. It goes way back - way back beyond poetry, when everything was oral. It was a survival tactic back then. If Uncle Pete got eaten by crocodiles down in the river, the ones who could tell the story and thereby communicate, Don't go into the river, would survive longer than the ones who could not, and pass on the genes better. So the act of storytelling is really coded into us over countless years. It will probably stay with us for just as long in the future. 

She also talked of female heroines and of actually making a living out of writing. She talked about her education, the career path she was considering taking, the writing she did when she was seventeen and then nineteen. I 'm sure you can find all this from her website and other places, but let me just say: it's amazing hearing it from herself. I'll say it again, she's so charismatic. It's not like she's gesturing wildly or talking loudly. She just sits there and smiles and talks leisurely, and you can't help but fall in love with her. (And yes, I'm a girl.) 

Afterwards, after deliberating, I got up the courage to - well, first approach my advisor, who was supervising the session, and ask if it'd be all right to ask for autographs. He told me to go ahead, so I did and got it signed. I probably should have been more personal with her, but I was too awed to do anything other than meekly tell her my name when she asked me who it should be to. But I got my copy of The Handmaid's Tale signed (and a friend's, who showed up to the reading but couldn't attend the Q&A - mostly because she didn't know about it. The perks of being an English Major, you see). 

(This is the pic taken by my crappy webcam, with my name blurred out in a really pathetic attempt.
Moot point, because anyone who actually knows me real-life will recognize me the moment they read this...)

I did get up the courage to ask her about M.A in writing program at a certain university, because I saw that she was on the list of adjunct faculty. She answered that she had acted as a mentor for a couple years in the past for something-or-other but she wasn't anymore. I was completely crushed about that, because how amazing would it be to have her as a mentor? Not someone like her, but her. Yowza. 

I came away from this completely inspired and gearing up to write. After what is pretty much half a month, looking back now, do I feel the same? I have to said the inspiration fades as it tends to do in lazy college students who'll get off their bums only after the professor uses his most effective Glare, but writing this has made me inspired again. Getting off my butt....now. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


tomorrow in a lounge with probably something like less than twenty people and she's going to be looking at me and expecting questions and ohmygodhowdoIdothis.

I also probably just gave away my school completely blatantly, but oh well.

I know I haven't been keeping up with the wonderful crusaders lately and I am a horrible, horrible person.
But help me out, guys!

What should I ask her?? 

Also how do I tell her that I love her completely and utterly without getting a restraining order 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yet another award, but very special for me

The wonderful, wonderful Deborah Walker, who has given me the One Lovely Blod award! Thank you so much -- you are pretty close to the first friend I made in blogging, and you are always ready to leave a cheerful comment on my posts. I appreciate it more than you might think! =)

To accept it, I must do the following: post it on my blog along with a link to the person who sent it to me, pass it along to other blogs, and let them know about it!

So here are the lovely blogs that you should all visit! =)

Writes of Passage

Fireside Park 

Finding Meaning with Words

Raising Marshmallows 

Butterfly Mind 

My Writing Journey

Happy Writings, Everyone!

One wonderful person, one stylish award, and seven facts about me

In my post about my rejection - thank you so much for the support, by the way, it's really washed away any negativity that might've been left in me - a lovely person with a lovely blog that I enjoy each time I visit left a comment to cheer me right up. Sully's Scribbles, thank from the bottom of my heart for the Stylish Blogger award!

Now, to accept this award, I must do the following: thank and link back to the awesome person who gave me this award, state 7 things about myself, and pass it along to other awesome blogs.

So here are seven facts about me!

1. I am a very fluent bilingual bordering on trilingual. It's troublesome at times, because a story just won't make up its mind what language it wants to be in. I've had instances where I've used both languages, and gone back and had to translate one into the other.

2. I love to paint digitally. I'm no means good at it, of course, but I still insist on doing it all the time - kind of reminds of that other thing I do, where I type stories out and pretend they make sense to other people. Mostly all self-taught here, however. Observe: it is a beagle's nose I drew from a reference when doing a texture study.

3. I have thing for glasses and guys. I don't fall for guys with glasses - because that would be more than half the world's population - but when I find attractiveness goes up when a guy puts on glasses. I myself always insist on contacts when going outside, however.

4. Being a sensible and busy student (or without a kitchen and half-adequate cooking skills, more like), I live on yogurt.

5. I do bake, however.

6. I'm a bibliophile and a music addict. I can't walk or write (or breathe, it seems) without music, and I play eight instruments. I cannot sing to save my life.


A parody of “The Dangerous Shirt” by Alberto Rios

The toothbrush in my washroom is dangerous.
I shouldn't have put toothpaste on.

Because I have, I will brush my teeth.
If I brush my teeth, I will change into pajamas.

If I am in my pajamas, I will be drawn towards the bed,
The bed and not the desk – the bed,

Because if I am in my pajamas,
I will not want to study.

So if I get near the bed, that's it -
Shake your fist at me, because I will lie down.

And if I lie down, I will close my eyes.
I will close my eyes and fall asleep.

The danger of the toothbrush – of course,
Always, every moment, it is so obvious.

Now, enough about me! On to the lovely people who deserve this award!!
Please take the time to visit these fantastic blogs! =)

There's a Place I Dream About 

Every Other Writer Has a Blog... Why Can't I? 

Crime, Thriller, Horror and... One Bad Romance

Living On Earth

Literary Fiction

Alberta's Sefuty Chronicles

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The rejection of the week

Well, more of the semester, I suppose. =)

I dropped by my room today in middle of the day when I should have been in one of my lectures, having judiciously determined that a little food and rest were more beneficial to my health than sixty minutes in a lecture about the American Government. (You've all done something like that at least once, right??)

And you see I was punished for this, because when I checked my mailbox, sitting coyly in the middle was the SASE I'd sent along with three poems to a magazine at the end of last year. I tore it open as I waited for the elevator, but I guess I sort of knew what was inside; I hadn't received an email from them or anything, and really it's been so long that I'd almost thought that my submission must have gotten lost in the mail.

But no, it was your standard rejection letter: "However, at this time, we are unable to publish your work."

And while it hurts, of course it does, it's not my first and it will not be my last. It was also my first poetry submission - I'd only started writing it last fall - so I'll be taking this one in stride.

Ironically, when I arrived at work after that (you see I'm not only thoughtful of my physical needs, I'm also diligent when I need to be!), I was told by my editor that I would have to send a similar "Really do love the work, but not for us right now" letter - to someone I'd met, no less.

So today was a two-sided coin, to say the least. I reacted mostly by baking - and wouldn't you know it, I made the best sesame rolls I've ever made so far. If anyone wants to talk to me, I'll be over there humming "That's What Makes the World Go Round" from Disney's Sword in the Stone.

Monday, February 28, 2011

My horse for a Kindle!

First off a huge hello to my new followers and crusaders -- Hello! I've been deader than dead lately on this blog, and I'm sorry - this is what two jobs and maximum credits at a university will do to you.

But look, I has a kindle!

It's the new Kindle, 6" display, with 3G + wireless. Mmm.

I'll admit I was on the fence about this kindle and all - I'm still more of a bibliophile and tend of insist on paper books. Even at this moment I still have books from the library (which I should really get to and finish before returning, actually).

But the Kindle's got its neat little features, and I guess my favourite part would be that I'm allowed to carry more than one book without killing my back.

As for readability, it's not too bad. With text, it's easier to read without the words running off-screan; with pdf, it's easier to read formatted word and without words "breaking" (it happens when you write in a non-Latin alphabet-based language, I suppose, which is what I do).

Doc files are supposedly supported, according to the website, but I haven't been able to get it to work yet. It'd be nice to be able to put my drafts in and read them on the road sometimes.

Being of the Web 2.0 generation, of course, I actually thought their internet browser wasn't half bad.

I was expecting a text-only browser, so when images showed up not half bad - black and white, but pretty good considering how black and white displays from years ago looked! - I was pleasantly surprised. The 3G was definitely worth it in this case, I suppose.

One thing I disliked, however, was being unable to download pdf files from the browser. I don't know if that's Amazon trying to stop me from not buying books through their store or illegally downloading books, but I was trying to get works that are no longer copyrighted (Wordsworth, Pope, y'know, the good stuff) from Google books and failed miserably. I shall have to play around with it a bit more, I suppose, or learn to utilize the usb cable.

Just on a personal side, too, I'd have liked to be able to type in stuff. Wouldn't that be something?? I mean, the key pad on the kindle is far from ideal, but I'm such a sucker for being able to type wherever I want.

That's it for February, everyone. Happy Writings!